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August 2010
Enjoy the Music.com Review Magazine
World Premiere
Weizhi Purity Graphite Footers And MK Audio Pon-Tunes
From Weizhi Precision and MK Audio, two very different isolation footer concepts.

Review By Wayne Donnelly

 

  As explained in the "Infrastructure" chapter of my three-part series on building a reference system (Superior Audio, October 2009), I named Ginkgo Audio "Cloud" platforms as my standard solution addressing component isolation and vibration control. Recently, however, I have been experimenting with the footers discussed below, and have found them to deliver very good performance, especially in certain applications.

 

Weizhi Purity Graphite Footers
Weizhi Purity Graphite Footers UnitsLet us begin with the "Purity" graphite footers from the Taiwan company Weizhi Precision. These are their entry-level isolation product; Weizhi also markets more elaborate and expensive component supports compounded of graphite and copper, as well as numerous other audio accessories. The Purity footers come in two sizes. The large ones measure 2.17 x 2.17 x 1.77 inches and retail for $360/set of four; the small ones measure 1.77 x 1.77 x .87 inches and sell for $195/set of four. The company's sales literature trumpets that only "pure German graphite" is used. I know nothing about the comparative merits of graphite from different countries, but presumably that's a good thing.

I discovered the virtues of graphite for absorbing physical vibrations back in the '80s, when I switched from a steel frame racquetball racquet to a graphite frame, which in a short time cured my perpetually sore "racquetball elbow" and improved my game. In recent years graphite has come into play with various audio accessories, though the Purity footers are the first such product I have reviewed.

Graphite is a very strong material with the ability to support considerable weight. I doubt if there are any audio components, even very heavy amplifiers and speakers, whose weight would require the use of the large Purity footers rather than the small ones. The best rationale for using the large footers would seem to be the need for more space under a component to improve cooling — e.g., a big tube amplifier. The heaviest electronics I own, my Spectron Musician III amplifiers, weigh 50 lbs each. When switching from the large to the small Purity footers under them, I was unable to detect any sonic differences.

What did make a difference was how the footers were deployed. With four in a set, it seemed natural to place them under the component feet — which also mirrored the setup with my Ginkgo platforms. Alternatively, I bypassed the component feet and placed the Purity footers to support the chassis directly. With this method I used both three and four footers per component. Those different placements — and variations in the materials and construction of my components — produced some varied results.

For example, my dual-chassis VTL TL 7.5 Series II preamplifier has heavy-duty aluminum enclosures and better-than-average feet (not just the little rubber ones often seen on audio electronics). With the small Purity footers under the feet, the sound was virtually indistinguishable from what I hear using the Ginkgo platforms. Interestingly, when I went to either three or four Purity footers directly contacting the aluminum chassis there was little change — much less so than when making similar changes under lighter-weight source components. There was also not much difference with the Spectron Musician III amplifiers, though the difference was more discernible than with the 7.5. On the Spectrons I slightly preferred the result of placing the Purity footers under the feet as opposed to directly contacting the chassis; the latter setup, in direct A/B comparisons seemed to darken somewhat the upper midrange and high frequency balance, though the differences were so subtle that the direct comparison was necessary in order to confirm it. And, again, supporting the Spectrons with the Purity devices produced a sound extremely close to what I hear using the Ginkgo platforms. That makes the Purity sets a good deal, as their $195 MSRP is considerably lower than that of the Ginkgo Cloud 11 platforms they were compared to. Under my Denon/Modwright 3910 CD player and my tubed JoLida tuner -- both decently but less expensively constructed than the above components — I preferred the better focus produced by bypassing the feet and placing the footers directly against the metal of the enclosures.

In two applications the Purity footers were especially useful. The first was to use them with my seven-foot-tall Analysis Amphitryon planar-ribbon loudspeakers. Those big screens are bolted onto pairs of supporting feet, and I have long been interested in finding the right footers to isolate those feet from the floor. The small Puritys are perfect for that use — strong, stable and not too tall — so I used one set of four under each speaker. Jackpot! As longtime readers may recall, I regard these as among the most transparently musical transducers I have ever heard. Adding the Purity devices produced a degree of improvement that I would have doubted was possible. The soundstage became even more "detached" from the speakers as an audible source, with the stage now more three-dimensional as well. Deep bass reached slightly deeper while bass transients gained speed and impact. Most surprising was a major gain in midrange transparency and articulation, especially audible in clearer vocals. I am hard pressed to think of another $400 upgrade that has produced so desirable a sonic improvement!

The Purity footers also proved valuable during my review of the Einstein "The Tube" Mk II line preamplifier (in this issue). The Einstein, with its 17 vacuum tubes, runs very hot, and I wanted to be sure to leave enough ventilation space above it. The rack space I put it into would not have had enough ventilation space with the Ginkgo platforms, so I tried the small Purity footers under the already impressive feet of the preamp. Not only did that give adequate ventilation, but bass depth and overall dynamic "slam" gained notably in impact.

I was very impressed with the performance of the Weizhi Purity graphite footers, under a variety of electronics and, especially, for their near-magical effect on the sound of my loudspeakers. They warrant an enthusiastic recommendation for performance and value for the dollar.

 

MK Audio Pon-Tunes
MK Audio Pon-TunesPon-Tunes reflect a totally different-- and in my experience, unique — design concept and choice of materials than the Weizhi Purity graphite devices, or for that matter any other conventional footer type I am aware of. The following three paragraphs, taken from the Pon-Tunes datasheet, describe those considerations clearly and concisely, and state the company's argument for the validity of this approach versus more traditional rigid footer designs:

"Most vibration control accessories are variations on the same themes of spikes, cones, mats and pads. They all basically affect the sound in the same limited and often negative ways, such as when multiple material layers lead to phase and temporal incoherence problems. We discovered the importance of allowing the equipment chassis to move slightly in response to impinging sound waves or floor-borne vibrations rather than absorb the wave into its interior. Rolling feet enable the chassis to move ever so slightly in response to sound waves or in response to vibrations coming up through the equipment rack. Little of that energy, which can cause microphonic distortion, gets inside the component. When assessing components, people involved in High-End audio tend to listen primarily to tonal balance and soundstage presentation. However, we humbly submit that true emotional involvement with the music comes mainly from temporal information. It was the benefits gained in this area that persuaded us to use our proprietary material in this particular design. The use of Pon-Tunes frees the system to sound its musical best — without loss of detail, dynamics or imaging. The music is presented much more coherently in time.

Pon-Tunes... consist of three one-inch diameter rods of varying lengths and three trays to hold the rods. All of the rods and trays in one set shall be used under one chassis. The rods usurp whatever is currently supporting the weight of the component. We typically get the best results when all of the rods point in the same direction, however, your listening tests or design constraints may suggest another orientation. The rack shelves need to be flat and hard. We do not recommend the use of this product in combination with any other vibration control product or on soft material such as carpeting. This product can also be set up to work under mini-monitor loudspeakers or loudspeakers on hard and smooth flooring.

What became important to our design was determined from our own listening tests. The following things mattered: the choice of material, the cross-sectional shape, the number of rods (or “feet”) used, the rods’ length ratios, and the surface texture. No other material we tested had the same “magic.” A round shape made the design somewhat impractical to use, but our trays secure the rods in place. The purity of the material is so important that we could not even dye it black. We also found the surface texture extremely important. Finally, to obtain optimal results, we strongly recommend that three rods be used per chassis, not two or four, as might be tempting in certain situations. We sell three rods per set for this reason."

 

I first encountered the Pon-Tunes in the Analysis room at the 2010 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest in Denver. Michael Kalellis' MK Audio imports and distributes Analysis loudspeakers, and is the parent company for Pon-Tunes as well as Arion Audio (amplifier review in progress). Favorably impressed by the sound in that room, I arranged to review both the Pon-Tunes and the 500-Watt Arion Class D monoblocks. Both of those initiatives were in startup mode, but this past Spring I received three sets of Pon-Tunes and a pair of Arion monoblocks.

After deploying the Pon-Tunes, I quickly realized that they require some special considerations in setup that do not typically occur with more conventional footers. Because the white rods (MK Audio declines to identify the material used; my guess is Teflon) simply rest in the smooth plastic open-ended "cradle" bases, and both the bases and the rods are very slippery, it can be problematical to keep the Pon-Tunes  precisely in place. My system has two equipment racks side-by-side, so some interconnects, especially my rather heavy JPS Aluminatas, can cause enough sideways force to move the component and even pretty easily cause the rods to slide out of the bases. This did not seem to happen with the Pon-Tunes under heavier components such as my preamp or amplifiers, but it was bothersome when using them under my CD player, tuner or USB DAC. I was able to solve the problem — initially by using small sections of double-stick tape, and subsequently small amounts of Blue-Tack added to affix the rods to the bases and the bases to the shelves. Those measures did not seem to affect the rods' ability to move laterally, and I could not hear any deterioration in sound quality caused by that small compromise.

Subsequent experiments with these various footer options served mainly to reaffirm for me that in audio there are many routes to get where you want to go. Under my VTL 7.5, the Pon-Tunes delivered a slightly livelier-sounding top end and upper midrange than the Weizhi Purity footers directly supporting the chasses — at least that's the way you would describe the sound if you prefer that sound. Someone who prefers the Weizhi devices would probably say that they provide a more focused and precise sound than the Pon-Tunes. Both footers worked well, and neither was unequivocally better than the other — or than the Ginkgo platforms — in this comparison. I got similar results when trying the competing devices under the Spectron amplifiers.

After I solved the stability issue, however, I was especially pleased with how well the Pon-Tunes enlivened the sound of my Denon CD player. Again a close call, but in that application I slightly preferred the Pon-Tunes to the Purity footers. Others might well disagree, but I felt that the Pon-Tunes gave a little more "sparkle" and liveliness to the digital sound.

Although the Pon-Tunes are also recommended for some speaker support applications, I did not try that, as I had no stand-mounted or floorstanding box speakers on hand and my Analysis speakers are too large and heavy for the loosey-goosey underpinning provided by the Pon-Tunes. But I do feel that their results using them under electronic components validated at the least that the concept is viable, and at $179/set of three, they are very well priced for the sonic benefits they deliver. I'm not about to discard my trusty Ginkgo platforms, but I am adding some Pon-Tunes to my accessory arsenal as well.

 

Conclusion
This review process has been most interesting, allowing me to get acquainted with two quite different but worthwhile approaches to component isolation and vibration control. I urge the reader interested in this product genre to audition these products, which are to my mind fairly priced and capable of delivering excellent results. You pays your money and you takes your choice!

 

Company Information
Weizhi "Purity" Graphite Footers
North American Distribution:
Aaudio Imports
4871 Raintree Drive
Parker, CO 80134

Voice: (720) 851-2525
Fax: (720) 851-7575
E-mail: brian@aaudioimports.com
Website: www.aaudioimports.com

 

Pon-Tunes
MK Audio
Michel Kalellis
385 Forest Hill Way
Mountainside, NJ 07092

Voice: (908) 233-0988
E-Mail: mike@arionaudio.com
Website: www.arionaudio.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
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